All Down Darkness Wide
A luminous and haunting memoir from the prize-winning poet – a story of love, heartbreak and coming of age, and a fearless exploration of queer identity and trauma.
When Sean meets Elias, the two fall headlong into a love story. But as Elias struggles with severe depression, the couple comes face-to-face with crisis. Wrestling with this, Sean Hewitt delves deep into his own history, enlisting the ghosts of queer figures and poets before him. From a nineteenth-century cemetery in Liverpool to the pine forests of Gothenburg, Hewitt plumbs the darkness in search of solace and hope.
All Down Darkness Wide is an unflinching meditation on the burden of living in a world that too often sets happiness and queer life at odds, and a tender portrayal of what it’s like to be caught in the undertow of a loved one’s suffering. By turns devastating and soaring, it is a mesmerising story of heartache and renewal, and a work of rare and transcendent beauty.
Hewitt's book is excellent... It makes one hope this is the beginning of a wonderful trend of men writing about love with the same intense vulnerability that women have for decades now... In Tongues of Fire Hewitt proved himself to be one of Ireland's foremost poets. In All Down Darkness Wide he shows himself to be one of our foremost memoirists too. A stunning meditation on love and heartbreak, this feels like an essential work of the new Irish queer canon. Let us hope it is but a first volume, the beginning of a vast work. -- Barry Pierce * Sunday Times * Sean Hewitt's book is a beautiful, complex and textured meditation on love, on growing up gay, on becoming a poet and on inhabiting Northern landscapes in winter. His account of falling in love and being in love is honest and vivid... I was engrossed, hardly looking up as I read. I woke in the morning fully enclosed by it, as though I had been dreaming it. -- Colm Toibin, author of THE MAGICIAN Sean Hewitt's memoir is extraordinarily beautiful... moving, and humane; it is the best new work of non-fiction I've read in years. -- Sarah Perry, author of THE ESSEX SERPENT The book in your hands is a precious, living thing, each page alive with ache and with love, with truth and with tenderness. [A] writer whose work will continue to be treasured long after our lifetimes. A wonder. -- Doireann Ni Ghriofa, author of A GHOST IN THE THROAT All Down Darkness Wide is a searing and sublime account of the scars left by intolerance and how they shape a self. Hewitt's gorgeous prose gleams like a dayspring in the dimness, his story lingering long after the book is closed. -- Melissa Harrison, author of ALL AMONG THE BARLEY It's impossible not to be intensely moved by this book, written with a poet's eye for detail... His memoir of queer discovery, loves found and lost, the past that we carry with us, and ultimately of becoming, feels like a future classic. -- Niven Govinden, author of DIARY OF A FILM A wondrous act of recollection: flickering yet sonorous, elemental, humid, full of ache, flecked with ironic comedy. Hewitt makes shimmering magic from shame and shyness... This book arrives as if it was there all along, foxed and dog-eared from the first page. -- Jeremy Atherton Lin, author of GAY BAR Luminous and utterly original, a book with its own darkly beautiful gravity. I can't think of anything I have read like it - in terms of style and sensibility, and emotional daring. -- Niamh Campbell, author of THIS HAPPY [A] very beautiful, very intelligent book. It is of course a moving portrait of very human fragilities, but it also testifies to the power of the heart and mind to survive all kinds of grief and emerge with much of value to say to the world. -- Okechukwu Nzelu, author of HERE AGAIN NOW Gorgeous and moving prose that excavates the deep complexities of grief, shame and love with a tenderness and lightness of touch that makes the words sing. -- Andrew McMillan, author of PHYSICAL It's a book that lures you in with the beauty of its prose, the poetic images that linger hauntingly in the mind for long afterwards. Difficult stories of mental illness, repression, and self-denial are transfigured into something defiant and life-affirming. -- Charlie Gilmour, author of FEATHERHOOD Raw and hypnotic... Hewitt crafts a moving story of salvation, as he charts his path out of darkness and into self-acceptance. It's an exquisite vision of queer heartbreak and liberation. * Publishers Weekly * Exquisitely written... In both the rhythms of his sentences and what he relays, Hewitt places himself firmly in an established British literary tradition...Though a study of despair, the memoir is not despairing... His call, framed by the poets to whom he feels so profoundly connected, as well as by his own family, is radical, a fervent appeal for presence and belonging. -- Harper's Magazine * Claire Messud * Stunning... This memoir is a heartbreaking disquisition on 'ghosts' like Hopkins and on the unattainability of permanence, and it features one beautiful scene after another... A profoundly moving meditation on queer identity, mental illness, and the fragility of life. * Kirkus (starred review) * [A] remarkable book, haunting... extraordinary and simply unforgettable. * Booklist (starred review) * This book bears reading twice it is so beautiful. Readers seeking an elegant, profound memoir will find none better than this. Highly recommended. -- Library Journal (starred review)
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